Bethlehem Press

Saturday, July 11, 2020
Contributed photoTerry Houck is only the second full-time district attorney in Northampton County history. He was sworn in Jan. 6. Contributed photoTerry Houck is only the second full-time district attorney in Northampton County history. He was sworn in Jan. 6.

Houch takes DA oath of office

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

For the first time since 1991, Northampton County has a new district attorney. John Morganelli, who held office for an unprecedented 28 years, has been succeeded by his First Deputy, Terrence Houck. Houck was sworn into office Jan. 6.

When Morganelli was first elected, nine of his 11 assistants were part-time prosecutors with private practices. The office of district attorney was itself a part-time job. Morganelli argued that he and his assistants should devote 100 percent of their professional time to prosecuting criminal cases.

The voters agreed, changing the Home Rule Charter to make his office full-time. Since then, Morganelli has replaced retiring part-time prosecutors with full-time professionals. All of Houck’s 22 assistants now have just one client - the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Houck himself is a career prosecutor who has spent 32 years in the Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton County DA’s office. His last 13 years has been as Northampton County’s first deputy DA. Before he became a lawyer, Houck worked as a cop in Philadelphia. He attended Temple Law School at night.

“Being elected as district attorney has been a life goal since the time I became a career prosecutor over 32 years ago,” said Houck on election night. “This is who I am. I will seek no other office.”

Like Morganelli, Houck will try cases.

He has snagged Richard Huntington Pepper as his first deputy DA. Pepper was poised to leave the district attorney’s office after 36 years, but will assume the role once held by Houck.

In addition, Houck has formed a leadership group consisting of Pepper and three prosecutors who have been promoted to the position of chief deputy DA. They are William Blake (Chief Deputy, Investigations), Patricia Fuentes Mulqueen (Chief Deputy, Prosecutions) and Tatum Wilson (Chief Deputy, Training). “These changes will create a clear chain of command and will provide the office with a structure that will create consistency and uniformity among our units,” said Houck.

At a news conference before taking office, Houck outlined some of his goals. He vowed to continue the community outreach established by Morganelli, who even visited every municipality in the county. He vows to strengthen victims’ services, start participating in problem solving courts, establish a child advocacy center, update the website, increase training and create a social media presence.

He has named Tina Queen “to the most important but underappreciated position in our office: Office Manager.” Mehvish Ahmed, who started in the DA’s office by answering the phone, will be his executive secretary.

The prosecution divisions are as follows:

Homicide and Violent Crimes

Chief Deputy DA Patricia Mulqueen

Asst DA Dave Ceraul

Asst DA Alec Colquhoun

Asst DA Aaron Gallogly

Drugs

Deputy DA Mike Thompson

Asst DA Adrianne Doll

Asst DA Julianne Danchak

Deputy DA Sandra McClure

DUI

Deputy DA Joe Lupackino

Asst DA Katie Kurnas

Asst DA Alec Colquhoun

Asst DA Nicole Cheskey

White Collar and Fraud

Deputy DA Jim Augustine

Asst DA Abigail Bellafatto

Asst DA Patricia Turzyn

Sex Crimes and Child Abuse

Chief Deputy DA Tatum Wilson

Asst DA Laura Majewski

Asst DA Julianne Danchak

Domestic Violence

Deputy DA Ed Penetar

Asst DA Judy Chaverri

Juvenile Crimes

Deputy DA Sandra McClure

Asst DA Laura Majewski

Appellate Division

Deputy DA Becky Kulik

Asst DA Katie Kurnas

Grand Jury and Major Crimes

Chief Deputy DA Bill Blake.